Thursday, November 30, 2006


Today is World AIDS Day. Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world - and that number increases in every region every day. As a practice today, learn someone's story who suffers or suffers alongside someone who suffers from AIDS. I visited the online aids quilt and read several stories.

As a worshiping community, we have been challenged by such a moment as this!

A moment when we know we are living with AIDS and that we are loved and affirmed.

A moment in which we can offer compassion to those with AIDS and HIV.

A moment where we can sit and comfort those who suffer illness or grieve loss.

A moment when we stand in solidarity with the care partners, health care workers, and researchers as they continue their diligent labor.

A moment and an opportunity to be with all those who are ill with any disease. Those worried, fearful or weary. Those carrying others in prayer.

In this moment:
We all stand in need of God's healing.
From Worship Resources for HIV & AIDS Ministries by Patricia D. Brown and Adele K. Wilcox, p. 8, copyright © Health and Welfare Ministries, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, Room 330, 475 Riverside Drive. Visit our AIDS Ministries Pages on the web at


I was thinking about music for next week's advent soundtrack and then thought to myself, "self, why don't you post your ideas." So here they are:

Waiting hopefully – d*note
Waiting Line – Zero 7
Wait til you see him – ella fitzgerald (version on verve remixed)
I will wait – maggi dawn
FUGAZI - Waiting Room
Tom Petty - The Waiting
Pink - Waiting For Love
Depeche Mode - Waiting For The Night
Leonard Cohen - Waiting for the Miracle
The Smashing Pumpkins - Waiting
PLACEBO - Waiting For The Son Of Man
FAITHLESS - One Step Too Far
Ben Harper - Waiting for a miracle
Ben Harper - Waiting On An Angel
U2 - With or Without You
U2 - Crumbs from your table
Seal - Waiting For You
The Cure - Waiting
ANI DIFRANCO - The Waiting Song

Sufjan Stevens Christmas series:
Vol 1: Hark
Vol 2: Hark! Noel!
Vol 3: Ding Dong!
In the Bleak Midwinter- James Taylor
O Come O Come Emmanuel- Third Day
Lo! How A Rose Er' Blooming- Sufjan Stevens


I had everything planned out and was ready for the evening, so I thought. The dynamics of having all ages together for a spiritual formation/program/conversation is amazing, awkward, humorous, challenging and ENERGETIC all rolled up into one big ball of Holy Spirit. And I'll leave it at that.

Although last night's Advent series did not go quite like I had planned it, God showed up and took over. It was wonderful to listen to children tell about their favorite Christmas traditions at home, for us to talk about traditions that we have here in our congregation and then to let everyone loose and encounter God through art and prayer. Some really got into it and some enjoyed catching up with friends chatting and watching the children, adults and youth who were wandering around from prayer station to prayer station. In the background played some celtic guitar music, Sufjan Stevens' "O Come O come Emmanuel", James Taylor's "In the Bleak Midwinter" to images of the Annunciation.

So here was the flow for last night (some of actually went this way, and some of this is how it was planned):

+ When participants arrive they receive a number which leads them to a small group of 6 people (adults/children and youth) *1

+ Once everyone is gathered they are greeted and welcomed and we have an opening prayer along with lighting one candle from an advent wreath in the middle of the room.

+ In their small groups they are to go around the circle and tell everyone: 1) their name, 2) what school they go to/ or what they do for a living, 3) something they love to do, and 4) their favorite Christmas time traditions

(adapted from a folktale from the Hasidic tradition)
There once was a man who became very dismayed with the way the world was. He grew tired of all the violence, injustice and war. Day after day he dreamed of a world where everyone got along and loved each other. He heard that their was a heavenly city that existed- and sure enough in this city people treated each other with respect and kindness, and their was no war and peaceful living prevailed.

So one day the man declared to his family that he was leaving to go on a pilgrimage to find this heavenly city. So he prepared a modest pack with a modest amount of food and a modest bedroll and a modest amount of clothes and set out in search of the heavenly city.

He travelled for several days heading in the direction that he was certain would lead him to this city. One night he stopped to sleep and as his custom he took his boots off and placed them pointing in the direction of the "heavenly city". During the evening a person lurking around who was absolutely up to no good came upon the man. Thinking that he wanted the boots he picked them up, but then as the man stirred he become frightened and put them back down and hurried off into the night. In the process of putting them back down though, he placed them facing the opposite direction.

The next morning the man awoke, ate a modest breakfast and put his boots on, being careful to notice the direction in which they were facing. He walked and walked and walked. And after several more days he approached the heavenly city.

It looked strangely familiar. Faces there looked like faces he'd seen before. But these faces were so much nicer. He smiled and greeted them and they greeted him back. He walked up to a house that looked a lot like his house back home. He knocked on the door and was greeted by a family that looked like his family. From that day on the man stayed in the heavenly city having found a place where he lived in peace with others and saw in others what he had only hoped for in the "city from which he was from".

+ IN SMALL GROUPS: What is God's dream for the world? If God asked you what your dream world would look like, what would you tell God?


Station 1: Seeds of Hope
materials needed: plastic purple tablecloth, potting soil, a few candles, pots or containers for the soil.

Prayer Meditation Sheet:
"When the time comes, I will make a fresh and true shoot sprout from the David Tree... The motto for the world will be, "God Has Set Things Right For Us."- Jeremiah 33:14, 17

Trees... vegetables... flowers... none of these things can grow or thrive unless the soil has nurtured them while they were still seeds. When we look around at the world we could use more flowers to brighten our lives. MEDITATION: In front of you are trays of soil. You are invited to put your fingers, or your hands, into the soil. As you do this- think of ways you can be a "seed of hope" in the world.

STATION 2: THE WAILING WALL (picture not available yet) *3
Materials Needed: Large piece of butcher paper attached to wall, markers, crayons, newspapers, magazines, glue, scissors

The Wailing Wall is a place to write or draw about the things you see in the world, or have experienced that you wish might be different.

We will have an opportunity each week to add to the wall. Consider bringing pictures or newsarticles that trouble you- to put on the wall.

Materials Needed: Christmas Tree, Christmas ornaments (metallic type balls), hooks or ribbon, paint pens.

Prayer Meditation Sheet:
"The time is coming- and I will make a fresh and true shoot from the David Tree." Jeremiah 33: 14-15

God promised God's children a sign of hope. We as Christians see that hope through the birth of Jesus. But have you ever thought of yourself as a sign of hope? Anyone who follows Jesus is a sign of hope- just like Jesus was and is. MEDITATION: Take one of the ornaments and on it create a symbol or a word that describes who you are. When you are finished place that ornament on the tree. Look at the tree and realize you are part of God's big family.

Materials needed: Sheets of paper, 8.5x11 cut into halves- 1 for each participant; small magnet strips, crayons and markers.

What is your dream for the world? Take a sheet of cardstock paper and draw an image or word that expresses the world of your dreams. After you are finished stick a magnet strip on the back of it and you can put somewhere prominant during Advent to remind you to be a sign of hope in the world.

+ COMING BACK TOGETHER AND SENDING FORTH: allow space for participants to share one thing they experienced during the prayer time, along with prayer concerns. Close with a benediction.
*1: we ended up staying all together and not doing small groups this week, but plan to next week.
*2: I didn' get to tell the story, I could tell that we were going to be pushed for time.
*3: turned out great, but I forgot to take a pic

Next week we will be focusing on the narrative of John the Baptist "preparing the way". That should be a lot of fun!!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


This week I'll be coming up on my 1 year anniversary as the youth and young adult pastor for Hermitage UMC (Dec. 3). I can't believe it was this time last year that I was cleaning out my desks at Blake'ville.

My first night at HUMC I led a small intergenerational group of youth and adults through an advent prayer walk.

Last year went so well that we'll be doing it again this year but revamping it for a 3 week series. so for the next 3 Wednesdays about 140 adults, youth and even children (kindergarten and up) will be gathering for experiential worship, intergenerational small groups, and a lot of formation and fun together. I have several prayer stations planned for each week, story telling, and some activities planned for the intergenerational small groups to bond together.

After the programs on Wed. I will be posting the ideas and pics on the blog just like last year.

Please keep me in prayer on Wed. The next 3 weeks will be the most leadership responsibility that I've had for such a wide and diverse range of the congregation. It should be a great experience!!



As I wrote on Friday, Jen and I left the kids with my mom and off we went for 3 days of Sabbath rest at New Life Christian Retreat Center in Buchanan TN. When we pulled in we were greeted by the caretakers Gene and Susan Oliver and their two boys. They had the little cabin that I had stayed in back in April ready for us.

The Hermitage sat in front of a creek and you could hear the water flowing. It sounds amazing and was wonderful.

Jen and I both came with no agendas except some quiet, a couple of books and little bit of chocolate and junk food and a little r&r.

Usually when I go on my pilgrimage retreats I'm either by myself in solitude or Gavo goes along. So the idea of a couple's sabbath for us was a little different. Jen wasn't real sure at first what to make of staying in this little hermitage that seemed less like a retreat center for her and more like a small cabin in someone's yard. It took a little processing to move beyond feeling like we were staying in someone's spare room and more like these nice caretakers had extended hospitality to us.

It was wonderful to have time to just sit and read. Jen devoured some emo depressing book about young love and suicide. I keep telling her she is a closet emo grrrl. She keeps just asking me what emo means. :)

I spent time with Scott McKnight's Praying With the Church and Robert Benson's Venite.

Jen and I walked the trail and I noticed how beautiful the area was. At one point I just stopped and watched these little birds fly around and sing. It was amazing.

This creek was an area where chairs are set up and you can sit and chill, meditate, pray or read. I did all of the above.

sitting with scott mcknight's words on praying "with" the church. this book was really profound. he basically goes through all the different major prayer books that the christian traditions have and how by using these "fixed hours" of prayer we don't simply pray in the church, but pray "with" the church. it was an absolute gem. i do feel like i have a better sense of what i'm doing in my practice of daily prayers. out of the weekend i have devoted myself to chanting or saying the psalms twice daily.

On saturday morn we slept in a bit, said morning prayers and then went in to downtown paris, tn. what a cute little small town. one of the quirky things jen and i enjoy doing together is going to little small towns and visiting their local shops- especially the "junk" style antique stores. the more cluttered the better!!!
you never know what you are going to find in one of these antique stores!!!

one of jen's traditions when we go on little trips like this is to buy a christmas ornament to remember our trip and time together. i think it's a cool ritual.

i saw this episcopal church in the town square. i loved the doors and was drawn to the building. i tried to get into the building to pray the midday office but it was locked. too bad!!

We were walking in the town square and ole Uncle Sam jumped out of the window with his finger pointing right at me saying "I WANT YOU". I said sorry, Jesus Christ already has a claim on me and he doesen't allow me to fight my enemies. Geez, Sam is even in small town TN, but thank goodness, so is the Prince of Peace.
Susan, the New Life caretaker, suggested that we visit Miller's Country Store. So we drove out into a Mennonite community and found both Miller's Country Store and Yoder Brother's Meat Processing Plant. Since it is hunting season the Yoders were quite busy with a motley bunch of hunters.

I talked to Ms. Miller for a bit. She and Mr. Miller are both Mennonite and moved to TN from a community in Virginia. She thought that I was Mennonite at first and was pretty sure she had met me before. I thought this was funny since I am such a "wannabe" mennonite. Jen and I brought home some Yoder Brothers Bar B Q Sauce and some of Ms. Miller's Jam. Yummy!!!

Ok, so on the drive home from our Sabbath Weekend Jen and I passed this road sign. All I can say is- only in the rural south.... WOW!! You gotta appreciate that very very big family of God's children and all our crazy ideas.
Not the best pic but the best I could get with the timer set. I don't think either one of us was ready for the timer to go off. Oh well....


JONATHON Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006


SAINT GREGORY OF SINAI, is considered a saint within the Eastern Orthodox tradition. He was probably born at Constantinople of a noble Anatolian family sometime in the 13th century. From his youth, he was attracted to the monastic ideal, and successfully persuaded his brothers and sisters, along with his widowed mother, to take up the monastic life. Around 1318 he and his two brothers went to Mount Athos, where they learned firsthand the traditional hesychastic way of contemplative prayer.

With the encroachment of the Turks, he was forced to flee to Thessalonica, being ordained a priest there in 1326. Afterward, he took up the eremetic life at a mountain near Beroea, and eventually returned to Athos in 1331.

He is known for living fully in the spirit and teachings of the early Desert Fathers. St. Gregory spent the last 25 years of his life on Mount Athos.

Amazing Architect and Creator,
You built Your Church through the love and devotion
of Your saints, and we give you thanks this day for
Your servant Gregory of Sinai:

Inspire us to follow his example
that we in our generation may rejoice with his in the vision of Your glory. Amen.
(from The Venite Prayer Book)

Friday, November 24, 2006



In just a few minutes Jen and I will be heading to small town, Buchanan TN, for New Life Retreat Center. New Life offers clergy times of Sabbath in one of their cabins. My mom is on her way to get the kids for the weekend so sabbath may actually happen :)

Hiking trails, many naps, great reading, and morning midday and evening prayers abound in this road trip pilgrimage. It will be great to get away for the weekend with Jen.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I started reading the "THIS HOLY MYSTERY" document that deals with the sacrament of Holy Communion. The Order Of Saint Luke has just published a study guide for youth and children. I think I'll be spending some time reflecting on this book here at the blog and see what kind of discussions might come out of it. Shalom.


Traditionally Holy Communion has been referred to by several different names. Here are some of them:

1. The Lord's Supper: reminds us that Jesus is the host and we participate at Christ's invitation.

2. Holy Communion: invites us to focus on the self giving of God, the grace that comes from participating in the sacrament, and the communion with God and church community.

3. Eucharist: means "thanksgiving"; reminds us that we are thankful for all the gifts God has blessed us with through creation and salvation.

4. Mass: "sending Forth"; focuses on how the sacrament brings worship to a close and sends us into the world to live as God's children. Traditionally Roman Catholic.

5. The Divine Liturgy: refers to the practice of eating and drinking of consecrated bread and wine in the worshiping community. Traditionally Eastern Orthodox.

I tend to favor Eucharist as the word used for naming communion. Which term do you tend to use more? Is one more valid for Wesleyans?


from my morning prayer today (lauds)
Luke 19: 11-25
While he had their attention, and because they were getting close to Jerusalem by this time and expectation was building that God's kingdom would appear any minute, he told this story:

"There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, 'Operate with this until I return.' "But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: 'We don't want this man to rule us.' "When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done.

"The first said, 'Master, I doubled your money.' "He said, 'Good servant! Great work! Because you've been trustworthy in this small job, I'm making you governor of ten towns.' "The second said, 'Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.' "He said, 'I'm putting you in charge of five towns.' "The next servant said, 'Master, here's your money safe and sound. I kept it hidden in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don't suffer fools gladly.' "

He said, 'You're right that I don't suffer fools gladly - and you've acted the fool! Why didn't you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?' "Then he said to those standing there, 'Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.' "They said, 'But Master, he already has double . . .' "He said, 'That's what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.


"... Then he sent for the servents to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it."

take care of me
Dream inside
my dreams
Waker of my
Light within
my darnkess
Your rays break
through and
illuminate and warm
me in the dark hours
of evening

She is a ray
I've seen almost my entire life
At times I have been cruel
somtimes selfish
sometimes so loving and in awe of us
that I hurt...
You've entrusted her into my care
Together we love
not perfectly but the best
we can...
I hope you are pleased

They are rays
bright and young
So much potential...
so much to offer...
Give me wisdom
Sacred wisdom
Like sages and magi
To see the starlight within
Travelling to each ray
To help them see their source
A sun so bright so warm

They are rays I've seen...
Lighting up forgotten places
I try and stay away
Their lights shine too bright
upon places I'd rather not see nor go
Forgive me for trying to keep
the light extinguished
Empower this hour and
this heart to go
to the forgotten place
to the forgotten rays
to see them shine

You place these rays before me...
in my hand to hold
in my hand to love
To see these rays grow into
something bright
Your delight
A twilight
of love

She is beautiful
from start to finish...
I remember the girl I loved and see her now
more wonderful than ever...

They are my harmony my rhythm
melodies and sometimes counter melodies
They give me hope, they give me peace
They help me grow...

They help me remember that I am human
and imperfect... that we all have a way to go
That I am incomplete and need them as they need me

take care of me
Dream inside
my dreams
Waker of my
Light within
my darnkess
Your rays break
through and
illuminate and warm
me in the dark hours
of evening

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Friday, November 17, 2006


Who has conquered the Middle East over the course of world events?

See 5000 years of history in 90 seconds....



JESUS AND HIS BROTHERS... episode = family trip to damascus

Thursday, November 16, 2006


From my journal during today's midday prayer:

Luke 17: 20-25
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, "The kingdom of God doesn't come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, 'Look here!' or, 'There it is!' And why? Because God's kingdom is already among you."

He went on to say to his disciples, "The days are coming when you are going to be desperately homesick for just a glimpse of one of the days of the Son of Man, and you won't see a thing. And they'll say to you, 'Look over there!' or, 'Look here!' Don't fall for any of that nonsense. The arrival of the Son of Man is not something you go out to see. He simply comes.

"You know how the whole sky lights up from a single flash of lightning? That's how it will be on the Day of the Son of Man. But first it's necessary that he suffer many things and be turned down by the people of today.

Live it
in your heart
speak... act...
the stories of
a loving God's imagination

See the home
prepared through a song
Mystic mountain
so colorful
with rainbow shades
of skin and a cross

See the home
prepared through a dance
Divine Lead invites a partner
to do a mountain waltz:

Three steps to love
Three steps to peace
Three steps to Christ
Three steps to you

Its all there- the Kingdom
in your heart if you just
breathe deeply

Tuesday, November 14, 2006



Luke 17: 26-37
"The time of the Son of Man will be just like the time of Noah— everyone carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ship. They suspected nothing until the flood hit and swept everything away.

"It was the same in the time of Lot—the people carrying on, having a good time, business as usual right up to the day Lot walked out of Sodom and a firestorm swept down and burned everything to a crisp. That's how it will be—sudden, total—when the Son of Man is revealed.

"When the Day arrives and you're out working in the yard, don't run into the house to get anything. And if you're out in the field, don't go back and get your coat. Remember what happened to Lot's wife! If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you'll lose it, but if you let that life go, you'll get life on God's terms.

"On that Day, two men will be in the same boat fishing—one taken, the other left. Two women will be working in the same kitchen—one taken, the other left."

Trying to take all this in, the disciples said, "Master, where?"

He told them, "Watch for the circling of the vultures. They'll spot the corpse first. The action will begin around my dead body."

As the sun rises and sets...
As the moon peeks out
in a pitch black night
among dancing glowing stars

I watch my love, my creation
so wonderful and confused...

Come together now
and light the darkness
illuminate your hurting places
Loving touch embracing
wind worn and life-bruised faces

As leaves change dancing down
to the autumn colored grass
Let your ways change from
fear to faith in one another
from hate to love
selfishhness to other-ishness
And dare to dream of something beautiful


Monday, November 13, 2006


NOVEMBER 13- Remembering all the saints from the Order of Saint Benedict

Today's saint from the Sanctorale, or traditional church calendar, is not just one saint but ALL the saints from the Benedictine tradition. Most who read my blog probably see how shaped I have been by the monastic tradition. So I don't have to say much about why I would blog about it.

There's quite a few benedictines who ended up as saints but I'm going to focus on one- Hildegard of Bingen. This woman was quite amazing:

Hildegard of Bingen(1098-1179), was born to a noble family, convent-educated from the age of seven by Benedictine nuns at Disibodenberg, near Bingen.

At age 43 she became abbess of her community, a position whose responsibilities did not keep her from pursuing an astonishing variety of creative and scholarly accomplishments. Historians know Hildegard for her correspondence with bishops, popes, abbots, and kings; mystics know her for her book of visions; medical historians and botanists for her two books on natural history and medicine; and literary scholars for her morality play, the Ordo Virtutum.

Musicians are beginning to know Hildegard for her antiphons, hymns, and sequences, a large body of monophonic chants whose text and music are both by Hildegard. Her chants are rich in mystical images, and her melodies are elaborate, with florid melodic contours, ornamented inflections, and wide ranges. Check out one of her chants here.

It probably sounds strange that I would include in my daily prayer remembering a saint, but the reason that I do it is that I see it as a way to connect my prayers with the "Communion of Saints" and it helps remind me of those who have paved the way for the Church today.

By Your grace, the monks and nuns of Benedict became a shining light in Your Church.
Grant, we pray, that we too may serve You with singleness of heart,
that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,
and that we may ever walk before You as children of light. Amen.
(from the Book of Common Prayer)

Friday, November 10, 2006


... is not so random this week.

I'm leaving in a few hours to head to Paris Landing State Park for our Jr. High and Sr. High Fall Retreats. The theme is "WORSHIP". Youth from all over TN will be coming together to learn, experience and plan/play worship together. I'll be co-faciltating THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. The Choc Factory's job?- to look at what other groups are doing/dreaming/planning and like ingredients we'll be mixing them all together and shaping them into something rich, yummy and pleasing to God.

I'll be sharing more after I get back and actually know how this turned out, since this retreat unlike others in the past is really going to form as the community forms it. PRETTY EXCITING!!

some of the workshops include: Telling Your Story, Choir, Song Writing, Drama, Video Production, Worship Art, Musical Worship Leading, Liturgy, and Sacred Space Design.

Have a great weekend all!!
Remember: "We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. "- Willie Wonka


Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Who did you exploit today?

Caution: do not watch if you have no sense of irony

Monday, November 06, 2006


I came across this great article from sojourners, written by Barack Obama. It's well worth the read.
One Nation ... Under God?
Democracy demands that religious Americans translate their concerns into universal values - and that secularists make room for faith and morality.
by Sen. Barack Obama

I’d like to look at the connection between religion and politics and offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often-bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years. We can raise up the religious call to address poverty and environmental stewardship all we want, but it won’t have an impact unless we tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America—a debate we’ve been having in this country for the last 30 years over the role of religion in politics.

For some time now, there has been plenty of talk among pundits and pollsters that the political divide in this country has fallen sharply along religious lines. Indeed, the single biggest “gap” in party affiliation among white Americans today is not between men and women, or those who reside in so-called Red States and those who reside in Blue, but between those who attend church regularly and those who don’t. Conservative leaders have been all too happy to exploit this gap, consistently reminding evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about the issues of abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design....

read the rest of Obama's article here

Sunday, November 05, 2006


(copy of an email letter to Harold Ford Jr.)
Dear Mr. Ford,

I am writing you as a concerned resident in Tennessee. I am writing you as a concerned father and husband. I am writing you as an advocate for those who's voices tend to be left out. I am writing as one committed to seeking and imagining alternatives to violence and war. But Mr. Ford, I am first and foremost writing you as a fellow Christian.

I have wrestled, changed my mind, prayed, and even had some very heated discussion on how one ought to vote in this election. There are many reasons why whether I vote for you or not that I would still hope for you to win. The biggest reason being is that with your being elected comes the hope that some real sense of change might be possible. With that said, I can only hope that you will model a different kind of politics than what America has experienced from both the Right and the Left. Mr. Ford, I am going to vote for you in a couple of days, but please know that for me the important task comes after the election. For on Wed. and the days to come you or Mr. Corker (whomever comes out as our new Senator) may see letters with my return address on them. That person may get emails or phone calls from time to time with words of encouragement and words of accountability.

Some of the the things that I might just write about might be things like:
Senator, how are things going? Is there talk in your circles about things like supporting measures that provide for family economic success and security by “making work work,” that promotes fair and decent wages, that show a serious commitment to lifting children out of poverty, and support policies on aid, debt, and trade that would bring extreme global poverty to an end? Senator I do hope you are doing well.

Or I might say, "Senator, I hope you are really committed to a serious plan for ending the war in Iraq, to joining a real national debate on how to remove American forces while seeking both security and peace for Iraq."

I may even say, "Senator, are you seeking creative policies that will dramatically reduce the number of abortions, end capital punishment, and stop genocide, especially in Darfur? Sir, please try your hardest."

These are some of the issues that are affecting many people- not myself as much as many in the world. So Mr. Ford, it is not lightly that I vote on Tuesday, but whatever the outcome- Wednesday the actual "work of the people" begins.

Good luck sir.

Jonathon E. Norman

Saturday, November 04, 2006


"Next Tuesday, we will not establish the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is not on the ballot. But you can vote to strengthen the common good. There are important things at stake in this election, including many lives in the ongoing war in Iraq. This is an important election for our country, and I urge all Christians to take time this weekend to think and pray about their choices, evaluate candidates on all these issues, then go to the polls on Tuesday and vote.

And after we vote, no matter who wins, we must be at the doorstep of politicians the next day to hold them accountable to the issues that arise from a broad biblical agenda."

- Jim Wallis, Sojourners Community

I am a Christian who happens to be an American who is voting.... I am NOT an American who happens to be a Christian who is voting. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.

THAT MY FRIENDS, does indeed shape the way I think, act, and vote.


Thursday, November 02, 2006


I've been listening to NPR and various other news media, both liberal and conservative, and continue to hear that Tennessee is one of the BIGGEE states where the election next week is going to be really important.

I know how I tend to lean when it comes to elections but I consider myself an independant and typically vote the person that I believe will uphold the values and stances that I deem as important. In the past I have voted for republicans, democrats, green party (yes I voted for Nader in 2000), and even libertarian. Do I agree with every single issue? Of course not. In the case of Nader, I did not like my options of Gore or Bush and I really believe that it is time for alternatives to an oppressive two party stystem that does not speak to or for me.

So when I came across "Voting God's Politics" from Sojourners I was intrigued. This is a platform that I can embrace. I have to admit that I pretty much agree with every single position that is held in this document. So next week my decision is being based on what I've been able to find in the candidates' positions.

Last night I rated Harold Ford Jr. (D); Bob Corker (R) and Chris Lugo (Green), trying to see how they measured up to God's Politics. They could have earned up to 210 points according to what information I could find on their websites and an independent political website and how it matched up to the God's Politics Platform.

Here are the results:
Bob Corker: 40
Harold Ford Jr: 110
Chris Lugo: 98

As always- am I thrilled with our choices? Not especially. I actually like Chris Lugo a lot but his stance on faith based initiatives simply isn't jiving with my thoughts on the "it takes a whole village" to create a whole community- that means churches, businesses, neighborhoods, schools, etc.. all working together.

For now, Harold Ford Jr. is looking like my choice- not because I vote democrat, not because I believe he is the perfect candidate, but simply because for now he appears to be the candidate that is standing closest to the platform that I identifiy with. But I'm still checking out their stances and I invite your reflections as well. Thanks.

It's 11pm, and I've been thinking again about my vote and voting my heart, my conscious and my mind. As I've looked over each candidate's positions I have a nudging to consider Chris Lugo as the person who would best represent the kind of decision maker/implementer for me. I know that this race appears to be between two people and two parties but from my perspective- unless we commit ourselves to voting our conscious and heart through prayer and discernment, the Republicans and Democrats will continue to take their power and mediocre leadership for granted. Maybe I shouldn't vote in order to try and see someone win but to add one more vote toward creating a future with more imagination and more political possibilities.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I actually wrote this last year but in wondering what to say about All Saints Day and anticipating this Sunday, this post seemed very appropriate a year later:

(written Nov. 1 2005)
Scripture reading for ALL SAINTS DAY: Matthew 5: 1-12, Revelation 9: 9-17

Quirky fact: All Saints was John Wesley's favorite Christian holy-day.


Sing praises to God, O you saints,
and give thanks to God's holy name!
We exalt you, O God, for you have restored us to life!
We may cry through the night, but your joy comes with the morning.
You hear us, O God, and you are gracious in our distress.
You turn our mourning into dancing!Our souls cannot be silent!
O God, our Savior, we give thanks to you for ever!

We often remember saints through pictures, mosaics, statues, and stained glass. Take some time and surf the web and learn about a saint from our Christian tradition. Blog about that saint today and share the saint with others. A place to start might be Christian Saint's Notes.